With the release of the PlayStation 4 Pro over the holidays, the debate over the performance needed for 4K gaming on PC has been fierce. With games like Last of Us Remastered running in the PlayStation 4 Pro’s 4K 60 FPS mode, it is a testament to the level of optimization that can be achieved when working to a single specification. Yet what sort of performance can a PC builder get for the same $400?
With Sony’s new baby releasing at $399, it provides an interesting challenge to PC builders everywhere. Realistically, the biggest advantage the PlayStation 4 Pro has (or indeed any console for that matter) is optimization. A game maker knows the specification going in and they can optimize their game to run on it. The strength of a PC is always in customization, and yet that can also lead to problems for game makers.
Building your own PC is still a better option if you like customizing your setups or enjoy a good bit of tinkering. Another huge positive is the ability to adjust graphics settings yourself, which often leads to better visuals and performance in some games, provided your PC can handle them. Let us not forget that this is the fun of building your own PC. You can always switch out parts and upgrade over time.
Although a great gaming machine for the price, the PlayStation 4 Pro is a closed system and cannot be touched outside of adding more external storage. As you will see from the builds below, we PC builders can always switch out parts and upgrade our performance when you can afford an upgrade.
When you look at the specifications of the PlayStation 4 Pro, the scale of their achievement with bringing 4K gaming to the masses cannot be understated:
PlayStation 4 Pro Specifications
CPU: Custom 8-core AMD Jaguar at 2.1GHz
GPU: Combined AMD Radeon graphics, capable of 4.2 TFLOPS running at 911MHz
RAM: 8GB GDDR5
For our builds, we need to consider game settings closely. Games like Last of Us run with little things tweaked or indeed removed behind the scenes to get that 4K 60fps benchmark. For our PC builds, we will need to be equally smart with what both the CPU and GPU can handle.
Below we have provided two builds: One which can output great performance at the PlayStation 4 Pro price point, and a second one which shows the advantages of a PC, i.e. what you can do when you spend an additional $150 on upgraded parts.
NOTE: The prices below are just for hardware. We do not provide the price of the operating system or peripherals, such as keyboard, mouse, and monitor, which you may already have at your disposal. See the bottom of this article for more details. If you do not own these things, you will need to factor that as an additional cost to your PC.
The $415 PlayStation 4 Pro PC Alternative
The aim of this build is to find the best possible PC gaming performance for around the $400 price point of the PlayStation 4 Pro. While this isn’t going to beat it outright, it will provide an excellent PC for gaming and with using as many new parts as possible, leaves you free to upgrade further down the line.
Overall, the following build should provide you with great 1080p gaming, while leaving the door open for higher resolutions if you are careful with your settings.
CPU: Intel Pentium G4560 ($65)
What a gem of a CPU this is from Intel. Not only does this provide excellent performance for the cost, it is also part of the new LGA1151 socket family. Crucially, this means that we can use a new Kaby Lake motherboard, making us more compatible for upgrades well into the future.
GPU: RX 470 ($155 after rebate)
Because of the single-die nature of the PlayStation 4 Pro CPU/GPU chip, it is hard to get an exact like-for-like match up. However, the new RX 470 does one hell of a job and cannot be beaten for the price. Although it can output in 4K, we would personally recommend going for its superb 1080p performance, instead of lower 4K in-game settings.
Motherboard: MSI B250 Pro-VD ($66)
As mentioned above, the new processor allows us freedom to use a 1151 motherboard. This mATX model from MSI provides us with everything that we need for an excellent price.
RAM: 8GB DDR4 ($41)
With the new processor and motherboard, comes the DDR4 RAM requirements. With the motherboard only coming with 2 slots for RAM, we have gone with the single 8GB stick here to leave you options for doubling this in the future.
Storage: White Label 1TB HDD ($35)
Large storage is available so cheap these days, as is proven by this 1TB drive from White Label.
Power Supply: EVGA 500W ($40)
The great thing about the CPU and GPU are their low power needs, which opens up the build to this cheap 500W power supply from EVGA.
Case: Rosewill FBM-01 ($24)
Very much a no-frills mATX case to finish off the build, but this one usefully comes with multiple case fans to assist with airflow.
With the build coming in at $399, this is an excellent all-around machine for the price. While it doesn’t match the PlayStation 4 Pro’s 4K capabilities, it does provide us with superb 1080p performance and leaves us with flexibility to tweak settings at higher resolutions if we wish. On top of this, with using a new 1151 motherboard as well as leaving space for more RAM and PSU power to spare, it leaves us with plenty of flexibility for upgrading the build in the future.
The $550 Upgraded PS4 Pro Defeater
This build should hopefully answer the question of, “but what if I have some money for something more powerful now?” With an extra $150, we can take the above build, improve on it and give you something genuinely powerful for gaming.
Here are the Upgrades we make, while keeping the RAM and hard drive from the other build.
Processor: Intel i3-7100 ($120)
The important aspect of the new 7th generation i3 for our build is the phenomenal single core performance. The new dual core from Intel is clocked at 3.9GHz, giving us great all-around performance for the price.
Graphics: RX 480 ($175 after rebate)
The bigger brother of the card from our first build, the RX 480 is well worth the extra cost to bump up our overall graphics performance.
Power Supply: EVGA 650W G1 ($80)
With a bigger CPU and GPU comes more power requirements and the 650W EVGA does the job nicely.
Motherboard: MSI H110M Gaming ($60 after rebate)
Switching out the more basic motherboard from the first build to this model from MSI provides us which a much more all-around motherboard for gaming.
Case: Rosewill Steel Mid Tower ($40)
With the bigger motherboard comes a bigger case, specifically this mid-tower from Rosewill, which provides us with all that we need to finish off our build nicely.
SSD (Optional): PNY 250GB ($80)
While not included in the $550 price tag, this SSD will greatly improve your overall PC performance if you can afford it.
All told, our extra $150 has gone a long way. We’ve given ourselves a lot more performance, have a whole host of additional upgrade options and a bigger case to fit it all in. All in all, a job well done and money well spent!
As mentioned at the start of the article, there are extras that you might need to finish off these builds:
- A copy of Windows. If you are a student or work for a big business, you might be able to get a copy for free or at a significantly lower cost. If not, we recommend Windows 10 on DVD ($90) or USB ($120).
- An optical drive – critical if you are wanting to install Windows 10 via DVD. Good thing here is DVD-RW drives are cheap these days (here’s one for $21). If you are hooking this into a 4K monitor, you might want to consider buying a Blu-ray drive like this LG model ($59).
We also have recommendations for:
If you want to see other builds with even higher performance, check out the main page at Logical Increments.
There you have it, two builds that can provide you with so much customisation and upgrade potential based around the price of the PlayStation 4 Pro. With careful customisation of your own game settings, they could even beat what the PlayStation 4 Pro can offer! If you have any questions or suggestions about these builds, then let us know in the comments.